13 November 2010
Cauliflower - The Best Veg On The Table .... And A Poll
(Photograph copyright 2010, all rights reserved.)
This post is in response to quite a few requests for the recipe for my favorite favoritist cauliflower recipe. I LOVE this dish. So does everyone else that tries it. It's a little fiddly to make, but it's so good, you won't care.
I got the original from the The New York Times over a year ago. I make it a little differently, in the interest of faster cooking, but it's essentially the same recipe.
(To the writer - please accept my humble and grovelling apologies for changing your recipe. It's wonderful, and it deserves to be spread around a bit more, don't you think? I promise that I am not a professional cook or in any way making a nickel from what I write.)
Cauliflower with Almonds, Capers and Raisins
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
1 medium head of cauliflower, washed, trimmed and cut into 1" (or so) florets
1 1/2 teaspoons butter
3 tablespoons bread crumbs (I use panko, and a little more than this)
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon olive oil
In a large oven proof pan (I use cast iron pan for this), saute the bread crumbs in the olive oil until lightly browned. Remove from pan, set aside, then wipe out pan with a paper towel.
3 tablespoons slivered raw almonds
Salt and pepper to taste
Add the almonds and s & p to the pan and brown. Set aside and wipe the pan as before.
2 tablespoons golden raisins
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar (or champagne vinegar if you like it better.)
1 teaspoon water
1 tablespoon of capers, drained
1 teaspoon fresh parsley, minced
1 teaspoon fresh thyme, minced
1 teaspoon fresh tarragon, minced
1 teaspoon chives, chopped fine
In a small saucepan, simmer these ingredients until the raisins are plump and soft. Set aside.
(I don't always have fresh herbs on hand. I've substituted a little minced shallot for the chives, and used dried herbs instead of fresh to fill in what I don't have. It still works, but the flavor is not as intense. Use your judgment, and pick the flavors you like best to concentrate on.)
Now....the fun part.
Saute the cauliflower with the butter in your big pan until slightly browned. Put the whole pan in the oven, and roast until the cauliflower is tender-crisp.
When the cauliflower is done, put it into a large bowl and add almonds, raisin mixture and lastly the bread crumbs.
The original recipe calls for the head of cauliflower to be sliced rather than separated into florets. As far as I can tell, this would mean browning each slice on both sides and then putting it into the oven which would mean a whole lot more work in the end. I freely admit I'm a short-cut goddess in the kitchen. Separating the head of cauliflower into florets means less time cooking and it's easier to serve family-style.
Most cauliflower recipes call for massive amounts of cream or cheese. I think those are far too heavy to be served at a big meal like Thanksgiving or Christmas. There's enough going on on the table without adding something that's going to hit everyone's stomach with a thud. The other down side is that those recipes completely disguise any flavor the cauliflower has of it's own - and it has a nice one.
Need I mention that this has FAR fewer calories and MUCH less fat than the standard gratin?
Now, I posted this in response to Pooham's poll on Slate. She asked everyone for their favorite side dish for Thanksgiving dinner. Pooham, I hope you don't mind, but let's ask the same question here.
So give, everyone: What is your favorite side dish for any holiday dinner?